Necrophilia and Narcissism

Two terms that evoke strong reactions.  One speaks of the disgusting “love” of the dead.  The other speaks of the disgusting “love” of the self.

Necrophilia. . .

Cigarettes.  Alcohol.  Sugar.  Artificial sweeteners.  Coffee.  Soda.  Gossip.  Pornography.  Adultery.  Anger.  Sex.  Violence.  Television.

Why are we so drawn to death?  So much of what we really desire, what we are motivated to obtain and to “enjoy”–that is, what we feed on to satisfy whatever it is we must be hungering for since that is what we consume–is not only unhealthy (or perhaps our appetite for it is not), but our voracious consumption of it only works to bring about death.  Death.  How much time and money do we spend feeding our bodies, our minds, and our souls that which produces no life, but in fact quite the opposite?  Who wants to answer this question honestly?

How much of what we feed our bodies, our minds, and our souls produces and sustains life?  Do we long for healthy foods to feed our bodies, or pursue vigorous activities and exercise?  Or do we prefer junk food, candy, fast food, cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs?  Instead of dumb bells or a pair of hiking boots, do we prefer a TV remote or a video game controller?

Do we feed our minds good books, Scripture, seek quiet time for meditating and reflecting on what we’re learning?  Do we seek opportunities to put what we know to use, to teach others, and to benefit those around us with what we have learned or been gifted with?  Or do we prefer to entertain ourselves with constant, mindless noise–whether it be music or television or video games?  Do we spend our time putting useful things into our mind, or do we just fill it with so much junk?

And do we spend time daily on our knees in prayer, bringing our needs before the Lord, seeking His provision in our life?  Do we read the Scriptures as if they are the very words of life, wrestling with them and begging God for understanding. . . or if understanding, begging for help with application?  Are we thanking God for all the things He is bringing about in our life, even the trials that strengthen our faith, and the afflictions that destroy our foolish pride?  Do we spend time helping others, ministering to them and meeting their needs?  And do we practice forgiveness when the Lord challenges us to live and to love as He did, sacrificially?  Or do we give ourselves to anger and a vengeful spirit?  Or to gossip, seeking the sin in others?  Or perhaps entertain lustful thoughts, hiding the adulterous hearts that beat within our breast?  Do we put unclean things before our eyes, and erect idols where only God should live?

And lest you think yourself somehow elevated because some of the most obvious entrees above are not a vice to you, then consider the second option. . .

Naricissism.

Maybe you think well of yourself because you have healthier appetites, and so you esteem yourself as being somehow better than those whose appetites seem to lead toward destruction.  Maybe in your own secret and subtle way, you pray quietly to yourself like that Pharisee, “Lord I thank you that you have not made me like these other men. . . even like this tax collector.”  Maybe you have deceived yourself, forgetting your unworthiness before the King.  Perhaps you have fallen asleep and forgotten that neither you nor your appetites are healthy, and that you are a sinner still in need of grace.  For our Lord said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Be careful you are not thanking Him that you are not like the Necrophiliac.

I don’t know if the old American Puritan Thomas Sheperd wrote these words or if Alexander Whyte penned them in his appreciation for Shepard, but I thought they reveal much of the human heart:

‘There is no difference. I am as you are, and you are as I am. Just try the thing yourselves. Just begin to love God with all your heart, and you will soon see that the more you try to do that the less will you feel satisfied that you succeed. And, in like manner, when you begin to love your neighbour as yourself you will begin to get a lesson with a vengeance in the spiritual life. Just try to rejoice in all your neighbour’s well-being as much as you rejoice in your own. Just try to relish and enjoy all other men’s praises of your neighbour as you relish and enjoy all other men’s praises of yourself. Just try to take delight in all your neighbour’s rewards, promotions, prosperities as you take delight in your own. And go on trying to do that toward all men around you, friend and foe, and you will get a lesson in the infinite and exquisite holiness and spirituality of God’s law of love, and at the same time a lesson in the abominable and unspeakable corruptions of your own heart that will make you wiser in all these matters than all your teachers.’

Necrophiliac.  Narcissist.  It is tempting to say that most of us are one or the other, but I do not think that is true.  I think there is a danger that most of us are both, although we may have certain tendencies to lean more toward one or the other.  Both are self-consuming.  And though means and motives may differ, both are self-absorbed and leave very little by way of fruit to offer others.

Christ was raised up from the dead.  He did not remain in the grave; He was raised up and is at the right hand of the Father.  If you are a Christian, you do not worship a dead man.  Therefore, if we love Him we must leave our Necrophilia.  At the same time, “By this we know love, that He laid His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”  We must not be so in love with our own lives that we hold on to them and value them more than we value the lives of others.  We must also come to Him understanding that our own lives are worthless, and that He is the true life.  Therefore, if we love Him, we must reject our Narcissism.  In Christ, we are called to love sacrificially, to give our lives for the sake of another without loving those things that bring about death.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Necrophilia and Narcissism

  1. Daniel

    Seriously? Coffee and soda are vices of necrophilia? Right there next to pornography, adultery. anger, sex, and violence?

    I totally agree that there are many things which have no real benefit (like sugar), but does eating a candy bar really equate to the love of death? Are you suggesting that anyone who touches any of those foods has done the same as committing adultery? Because that simply doesn’t wash bro. I mean, alcohol, fatty foods, caffeine, all can be abused, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that if you partake of them at all you have committed some sin. Of course that is not true of something like pornography (and I say that as a person who Christ freed from that bondage…), because there is no such thing as a “healthy level” of porn. Didn’t Christ drink alcohol? (wine?) Was he a “lover of death”? No… He was blameless in everything he did. He didn’t get roaring drunk, he just had drank some…

  2. P2

    Daniel,

    Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment. I understand what you are saying, and I purposefully included a broad spectrum of vices and devices in that group. Few would argue against death as the ultimate end of anger and violence, although some may not see the evident end of it in things like pornography and adultery. To my mind, pornography and adultery are the same. Jesus makes that clear in the Sermon on the Mount, but we don’t necessarily even have to look at someone lustfully; it might be concealed in the dark thoughts of our mind where no one else can see but God. And the Proverbs are very clear that the end of adultery is death.

    We know the same is true for alcohol and drugs, and that the word which is commonly translated as sorcery from the Greek in Galatians 5 in Paul’s list of “bad fruit” is from the Greek “pharmikea” from which we get “pharmacy” and “pharmaceuticals”. The death sentence was also proclaimed on diviners and necromancers (i.e., those who communed with the dead for knowledge). And I’m sure we all know someone who has been effected by death produced by drugs and or alcohol, whether by a drunk driver, overdose, or some other tragic consequence of their influence. Surely, most of us have seen someone we know become someone we no longer knew at all as a result of drug or alcohol addiction. I can speak from painful and personal experience to these things. (And God has delivered me from many addictions, as well – cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, pornography, so again I have some experience with these things.)

    Many will also admit that cigarettes cause cancer and that there is no life-giving benefit to smoking cigarettes. Yet, I know many people–both friends and family–who despite knowing that there is no medical benefit and much evidence of the harm that smoking does to the body, still smoke. Many of them have kids. I would assume that they are at least somewhat aware that smoking this cigarette right here right now might cost them several years of life down the road with their kids and/or their grandkids, but they do not feel compelled to stop.

    So those may be obvious. But television? Junk food and soda pop? Coffee? Too much sugar? Pharmaceutical drugs? These are things that our culture says are okay, right? As you say, Jesus drank in moderation didn’t he?

    And in moderation, those things are fine. I have children. And I have appetites of my own. I happen to like coffee a lot. But if I drink too much of it and not enough water, it is bad for my body. And if I do it for a long period of time, it gets worse and worse. I don’t have a problem with a bowl of ice cream or a couple cookies after dinner. But if one of my kids wants to drink soda and snack on candy, cookies, and crackers before a meal, and then claim they are not hungry when it’s time to eat their vegetables, I know they are not getting the nutrition that they need. And if this persists for days and weeks and months and years. . . well, there may be one more member of my family who dies at an early age because of obesity and diabetes. If they never learn to develop healthy appetites and feed their bodies the nutrition that they need–and they never develop that necessary sense of moderation–well, the end of such is death. That is just the simple truth. And the big problem with our American society today is it does not teach any sort of understanding of “delayed gratification”, but rather it encourages a spirit of “I want it here, I want it now, I want it hot, and I shouldn’t have to wait.” The family meal has almost vanished, and a real appreciation of food and nutrition is lacking in our society like never before.

    And what of television? Well, I guess we’ve agreed that pornography and violence produce death, but isn’t that 90 percent of what television sits on? Most of the shows on TV (even most professional sports) package up some form of sex and violence, encouraging anger and adultery while selling the basic principle of instant gratification. Television like nothing else in the last 50 years has taught us to devalue everything around us.

    Now, please understand — I have not gone off the deep end. I am not advocating the destruction of television sets and soda vending machines all across the land. But I think it is good and necessary to point out that even those thinks that we accept as harmless to determine what sort of fruit they ultimately produce. It is also good to examine our own hearts and our appetites to see if they are balanced. And if they are not, to take steps to correct them. As I said in the article, sometimes it is our appetite that is not healthy moreso than the thing we crave itself…. that “our voracious consumption of it only works to bring about death.”

    Please feel free to comment further. I hope this explains a little better where I’m coming from.

    Peace & Blessings in Christ ~
    Simple Mann

  3. Pingback: Necrophilia and Narcissism (Take Two) | simplemann.net

  4. Daniel

    Thank you for responding… I agree with everything you said as you further expounded on your original post. I suppose it was because I didn’t see anything speaking to the issue of moderation vs. lack of control in that post, that I was compelled to ask about it…

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